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Used Sailboats from the 1970s: Practical Sailor Puts Plastic Classics Under the Microscope

Fiberglass boatbuilding really hit its stride in the 1970s, and a lot of big-time boatbuilders were pumping out a lot of good boats. Although boats 30-plus years old are a little long in the tooth, a 1970s fiberglass boat that has been well taken care of is an excellent starting point in a search for an affordable used boat. Those searching for a $10,000 to $20,000 sailboat would do well to search for a fiberglass cruiser from the 1970s. Practical Sailor examines nine models of 30-year-old 30-foot sailboats that are fun to sail, have sufficient accommodations for a family cruiser, and are plentiful on the open market. Among a field including the C&C 30, Cal 2-30, Hunter 30, Irwin Competition 30, Newport 30 PH-II, and the O’Day 30, the Pearson 30, Tartan 30, and Catalina 30 stand above the others. A close look at these three used boats—the Sparkman & Stephens-designed Tartan, the racer/cruiser Pearson, and the well-rounded family boat, the Catalina—offers an idea of what to look for and what to expect when you’re searching those used-boat classifieds.

PS Advisor 04/01/99

Switch FailureIs there a special way to keep bilge sump switches? The reason I am asking is that the Rule-A-Matics on my Hunter 34...

Grampian 26

The first fiberglass auxiliary sailboats were built in the late 1950s. The burgeoning industry reached full bloom in the early 1970s, but the 1960s saw a rapid increase in the number of builders hoping to cash in on the new miracle material of fiberglass. No seams, no rot, no water absorption...or so we thought. Still, the claims were largely accurate, and even though the ad agencies were quick with hyperbole, the public bought it. By 1961, a handful of European builders were also working with woven glass fibers and polyester resin, laying up hulls in female molds. In Canada, one of the first was Grampian Marine Limited of Oakville, Ontario.

Pearson 26

A 1970's racer/cruiser that makes a fine, economical boat despite a few problems.

Mailport 07/01/99

Keel BoltsIn the April 1, 1999 issue a reader asked about replacement of keel bolts. I presume, from his question, that PSs position is...

Craftsmanship is at the Heart of Construction

Modern engineering works well with many older designs. In the Stuart Knockabouts original plans, soft wood planks were mechanically fastened to hardwood frames and the its shoal-draft keel/centerboard was bolted to the keelson. Timber boatbuilding is labor intensive and the time-saving shortcuts found in molded FRP hull and deck construction have a well-proven track record. Add to this the fact that wooden hulls and decks are susceptible to rot, and its clear that Hardings vision of a fiberglass/foam sandwich Stuart Knockabout was a best-of-both-worlds solution rather than a sacrilege. The result of the FRP conversion is a stiffer/stronger, monocoque hull that required less maintenance and is much more immune to the elements.

How big does a backing plate need to be?

Practical Sailor recently tested the strength of solid laminate with relation to the bolt passing through it (see PS, June 2016 online). We also tested several materials used to make backing plates when attaching fittings, hardware, and structural components to the boat.

Beneteau First 345

The Beneteau First 345 was designed as a moderate displacement racer/cruiser, and much of its popularity has been because of its success in blending the two functions. In fact, it could be said that the First is a racing boat that contains a cruising interior. The architect is Jean Berret, a Frenchman noted for his cruising and racing designs (he designed the 1985 Admiral's Cup winner, Phoenix, a Beneteau one-tonner).

Mailport: 04/09

I read with interest your evaluation of first aid kits, which wrapped up with the final installment in the December 2008 issue. Id like to add a couple of points: Weekend, cruising, and bluewater sailors should invest in a good up-to-date first aid and CPR course. It is as important as a functional bilge pump. The responsible sailor can outfit a substantial and superior first-aid kit for much less money than a commercially available kit. The kit should be appropriate for the expected duration a victim will need treatment prior to evacuation. Most commercial kits contain a lot of fluff and are unnecessarily redundant-a lot of Band-Aids. I stress to distance sailors stocking a few prescription items and aggressive treatment for seasickness, beyond Bonine. I favor a solid medical text such as "A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine," by Dr. Erick Weiss and Dr. Michael Jacobs, or "Medicine for Mountaineering and other Wilderness Activities," by James Wilkerson. The latter is available from Mountaineer Books. Both texts give guidance on stocking kits appropriate for your boat. Remember, the victim may be the captain or medical officer, and a novice may be the one rendering treatment. A medical guide is an invaluable resource.

DIY Materials Testing

While many potential failures are easy to spot, some flaws are hidden under paint or within the structure, or are so small that a routine visual inspection wont pick them up. Standing rigging, hulls, decks and hardware fittings are the most common places where hidden structural weaknesses can lead to big repair bills, or even loss of life.